Student prizes are not the only awards the University will limit to $1,000 this year: some travel fellowships will also be subject to the cap.
Administrators still do not know which or how many of Yale’s hundreds of prizes will be capped at $1,000, but among the funds they have decided to restrict so far are the Classics department’s Berkeley, Biddle and Woolsey fellowships, which traditionally fund students’ research trips to Greece, Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean. The History of Art department has also capped its Marshall-Allison travel fellowships to $1,000 each for two students, less than usual, History of Art chair Alexander Nemerov said. Meanwhile, other departments and prize committees are waiting for specific instructions on their prizes, most of which are traditionally awarded during April and May.
Though Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer announced the cap on prizes to departments in mid-March, the Classics department only learned of the new policy on travel fellowships at the beginning of April. And because Berkeley, Biddle and Woolsey administrators asked students to submit applications for the fellowships by April 1, the late notification meant that the fellowship committee had to be more selective than usual in choosing winners, Classics chair Christina Kraus told students of the department in an e-mail earlier this month.
“I know that there is great unhappiness and anger about the results of the BBW distribution,” Kraus said in the e-mail. “I am sorry that this happened with such short notice. We do not know whether this state of affairs will continue.”
Lorimer and Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle declined to comment.
The Berkeley, Biddle and Woolsey fellowships — which the department originally established by combining the donations of three donors — are meant to help classics and archaeology students travel to regions of the “ancient world,” according to a department bulletin.
In the past, both undergraduates and graduate students could generally count on winning up to $3,500 to conduct research in the Mediterranean, with the number and amount of the awards depending on how much the fund brought in each year.
“We’re able to send outstanding students to libraries, museums and sites in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and other countries that are very valuable to our classicists in general to visit, and in the case of some archaeologists, really crucial to their work,” classics professor Victor Bers said.
But this year, since the Classics Department was limited to drawing $1,000 each for 14 awards from the Berkeley, Biddle and Woolsey fund, about 15 percent of the funding the department has given out in the past, Kraus said. Though the department used some of its other funds to increase the amounts to about 40 percent of what it has awarded in the past, the committee had to give priority to applicants who have not won Berkeley, Biddle and Woolsey fellowships before and those who needed the money for thesis research, she said.
By the time David Curtis ’11 learned his Berkeley, Biddle and Woolsey award was limited to $1,000, he said, the deadlines to apply for other summer travel fellowships had already passed. Curtis paid for round-trip plane tickets, hotels and food in Greece last summer with a Berkeley, Biddle and Woolsey award and plans to conduct research for his senior essay in Rome and Pompeii this summer, he said. But though $1,000 is a large sum, he added, it does not cover the cost of round-trip airfare.
“A thousand dollars is a lot of money, but to travel, for a college student, unless you have another source of income, it’s not enough,” Curtis said. “The timing was inconvenient, because it meant I couldn’t apply for other sources of funding.”
Meanwhile, the Provost’s Office is continuing to review all prize funds with income over $1,000, Deputy Provost Charles Long said. So far, departments have received specific instructions on a few of their prizes: The English department, for example, will restrict the Herson Scholarship for seniors intending to pursue graduate studies to two awards of $1,000 each, out of the original $10,000 total, said English prizes committee chair Leslie Brisman. And the McLaughlin scholarship for seniors will be cut to $1,000, for one senior, out of the original $16,000, he added.
The administrators’ review of prize funds is being monitored by the office of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, who said Friday that Yale is “cooperating” with his office’s requests for material.
Blumenthal said his office is judging whether Yale is interpreting each donation properly based on all the documentation surrounding each gift. He declined to say how many donations his office has reviewed so far or what steps he will take after reviewing all the documents.